Denise Jackson came from Newnan, Georgia, a Mayberry-type town 40 miles outside Atlanta. The “late surprise” of middle-aged parents Dan and Nell Jackson (yes, Denise’s maiden name was the same as her married name), Denise and her twin brother Danny grew up with sister Jane and a brother 21 years older, Ron. The Jackson family’s Baptist church was the center of their social life. A straight-A student, homecoming queen, cheerleading captain, and star of the tennis team, Denise was a super-achiever who attracted Alan Jackson’s attention at the tender age of 16.
High-school sweethearts, they married when Denise was 19 and Alan was 21. Denise completed her BS degree in Early Childhood Education in three years at West Georgia College and went on to teach second and third graders in the same elementary school she had attended as a child in Newnan.
In 1985 Alan and Denise packed all their earthly possessions into a small U-Haul trailer and drove to Nashville. While Alan wrote songs, performed at small clubs, and shopped his music to record producers in Music City, Denise had switched careers and was working as a flight attendant for Piedmont Airlines, which was later purchased by USAir. Though she was based out of Washington, D.C., Denise chose routes that would allow her to be at home with Alan as often as possible. She continued to fly until near the time of the birth of the Jacksons’ first daughter—which, happily, coincided with Alan’s big break and the beginnings of the superstar status he continues to enjoy almost 20 years later.
Today Denise devotes most of her time to her husband and their three daughters: Mattie, 17; Ali, 14; and Dani, 10. Like most moms with kids in school, Denise spends a lot of time being the girls’ biggest fan and cheerleader at their many basketball, soccer, softball and volleyball games. She enjoys being involved at other school-related activities, and takes pleasure in being a design partner with Alan in their various building and remodeling projects. She’s also an avid reader, a team member in a competitive tennis league, an incredible cook, a fun friend, and a dedicated student of the Bible.
Having lived most of her adult life in the spotlight of her husband’s celebrity, Denise began thinking about writing a book about eight years ago. She had been through the fairy tale wealth and success that many people can only dream about. But she had seen quite clearly that material things and fame can never buy happiness . . . a pretty basic point, but one that is often missed in today’s celebrity-driven media cycle.
Denise had married the only man she had ever loved . . . and experienced the pain of her marriage breaking apart. She had endured the shocking loss of her beloved elder brother to suicide. She had experienced the bleakness of post-partum depression. In short, in spite of the glamour of fame and fortune, she had been through seasons of pain, loss, and brokenness--and she felt she had something to share that could help others facing similar challenges.
But Denise didn’t just pen a quick, light book. She waited until she felt she had the right team in place to relate her story in a way that had substance and could truly be of help to others. Keeping a prayer journal, and asking God to give her insight, she reflected on her journey and its transferable truths. Forgiveness: how is it really possible? What does it look like in the ins and outs of daily life? Restoration: how do you heal from the pain of shocking loss? How do you rebuild a marriage that’s been broken? Communication: how do you create a home environment in which family members really connect with one another, rather than drifting along on the surface of life’s busy schedules? Joy: what’s the secret of real, lasting contentment?
Denise waited to write her book until she felt she had something worth saying. A book that could address life’s tough issues that are common to us all, a book that could offer readers real hope, creative ideas, and a great, fun read along the way.
It’s All About Him was definitely worth waiting for!
Ellen Vaughn, Denise’s co-author, is an award-winning writer whose recent books include Time Peace and Radical Gratitude. Her novels are The Strand and Gideon’s Torch, which she coauthored with Chuck Colson. A former vice president of executive communications for Prison Fellowship, she collaborated with Colson on eight other nonfiction books, including The Body, Being the Body, and Kingdoms in Conflict. Vaughn speaks frequently at Christian conferences, and has been featured at writers’ seminars in the U.S. and Canada. She and her husband, Lee, live in Virginia with daughter Emily, twins Haley and Walker, an enormous dog named after C. S. Lewis, and a small emergency back-up pup named Gus.